So-called “legal highs” have been purchased by Cornwall Council officials as part of a national sampling programme.
The Trading Standards team in the county bought a variety of substances from outlets across Cornwall as part of a Home office initiative which will inform a review of psychoactive drugs.
Results showed many substances were not listed on the packaging, leaving officers concerned that customers do not truly know what they are taking.
Trading Standards also said it was concerned that while many of the products are sold as “research chemicals” or “plant fertiliser”, they are given trade names which reference illegal drugs.
Elizabeth Kirk, senior Trading Standards officer, said: “The increase in the use of so called ‘legal highs’ is of great concern to both ourselves and the police, as these substances are as easily abused as illegal drugs, and unfortunately many users think that because they are legal, they are safe.
“Although all the samples tested on this occasion only contain drugs that are legal on the open market in the UK, many of them are illegal in other countries around the world.”
Cornwall Trading Standards, which worked with Devon and Cornwall Police on the project, is calling for details of the contents to be listed on packaging.
Kim Hager, manager of the Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT), said:“It is time for these products to accurately detail their contents, as with any other products on sale for consumption, so that purchasers can make informed choices and minimise the risks to themselves with regard to any particular ingredients.”
Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes and communities, added: “Legal highs can carry serious health risks. Just the fact that a substance is sold as legal to possess, doesn’t mean that it’s safe.
“You can’t really be sure what’s in a ‘legal high’ that you’ve bought, or been given, or what effect it’s likely to have on you.
“I would urge people not to put themselves at risk and never mix alcohol with legal or other substances as the effects can be unpredictable and dangerous.”